I’ve been to this rodeo before. You know, the one where you walk across a stage in front of hopeful peers just praying you do not stumble and fall. The one where you receive a piece of paper that represents a lifetime of time, dedication, and too much money spent. The one where friends and family cannot help but ask the infamous question, “What’s next?”
Yes, I am talking about graduation. You have worked tirelessly to get to this point. You have hit a huge milestone and it should be celebrated! However, like with any good celebration, a hefty price tag seems attached.
I began to get the “HEY GRADUATE!” emails a couple months ago. You know, those anxiety provoking emails that you try to delete as soon as they pop up in your Inbox. The thought of being an adult and ordering everything I needed for graduation was not a pleasant one. I had gone through the process of ordering my cap and gown, announcements, picture frame, and other miscellaneous items included in a $300+ package at least three times. When it actually came time to pay, I would second guess my order, and exit out of the page.
I could not justify spending an arm and a leg on these things that I honestly did not even like. Unfortunately there is no way around ordering the cap and gown, which is a whopping $68.78. That purchase still stings a little. These graduation companies must evil laugh behind the screen each time someone orders a cap and gown. They are able to charge nearly 60 times the price it costs to make them; how is that right? It simply is not, but like I said, I have yet to find a way around the whole cap and gown situation.
Each time I would log on to order my bundle of graduation necessities, I would select a smaller package.
“I don’t need a frame, I can order that somewhere else for half the price,” I would say. “And honestly when would I actually a wear a class ring?”
By the time I got to the order page, the only things left in my cart were the cap and gown and graduation announcements. I kept staring at the announcements trying to justify spending $126.95 on 50 announcements that I personally thought were just – yuck!
“I could make better,” I thought to myself. Ah-ha! I navigated my way to the land of DIY and one of a kind creations: Etsy.
I came across a store called Anchor Studio. Anchor Studio is an Etsy store run by two girls named Allie & Caitlin in North Carolina, and let me be the first to tell you, their stuff ROCKS. I came across a water-color graduation announcement that they would work with you to personalize, and I was sold.
How does it work?
All announcements like the one I ordered are $50. That includes two requests to change your work of art after your initial template is done. I believe any additional changes are $10. When you place your order, you include everything you want on your announcement. They have an example to guide you, but you can really tell them whatever you want! Once you have submitted your order, all creative control is handed over to these brilliant ladies. Within a week of submitting my order, I received a first draft template. The draft was pretty close to perfect, I only asked them to change one thing. I was simply being indecisive, and like I said, the first two edits are included. They quickly sent back an updated version and that was that!
Next you print your announcement. Anchor Studios sends you a PDF of your announcement once it is complete. The announcement I chose is 5×7. I chose to get them printed professionally at Morgantown Printing and Binding out of pure laziness. They could easily be printed on card stock at home. I ended up getting 50 printed for a total of $31.80. The process took about five days between initially emailing MPB and picking up my announcements.
You need the whole picture.
I could have stopped there and had a lovely graduation announcement. However, I tend to always take things a step further. Maybe that means I am not a true artist, because I never know when to stop.
I view graduation announcements as a big life update! Some of the friends and family you send them to, you haven’t seen in years. They are comparable to a quarter life update. I personally think it is a pretty big deal!
I feel like I look different than I did four or more years ago, or at least I would like to think I do. I decided if I were going to put in the effort to send a big life update, having a picture to go with the announcement was important. I did not do any extravagant photo shoot for senior photos or anything like that. I thought a headshot I had of myself would suffice (again, just a visual to add to the announcement). I felt slightly narcissistic getting 48 wallet sized head shots printed (view visual for humor), but it was for the sake of the aesthetic of the whole thing! I was able to get 48 head shots same-day printed from Walgreens for $7.56.
Seal and send!
I could have purchased regular envelopes, but I like the look of natural brown envelopes and thought they would go neat with my announcements. I went to a couple stores around town trying to find natural brown envelopes that would fit 5×7 cards, and I finally found them at AC Moore. I purchased 50 for $9.30.
Tip: AC Moore has a student discount! Oh how I will miss that.
I wanted to finish my announcement off with a fun seal, and what better than a graduation hat? Oddly, this was the hardest thing to get my hands on. I ran around town like a mad woman searching for a graduation hat stamp. One would think that with graduation season among us, finding this would not be very difficult. While in AC Moore, I received a slight lecture telling me there is not a large enough demographic searching for this particular item and I would most likely not find one anywhere. Something some may not know about me: if you doubt I am capable of doing something, I will shed blood, sweat, and tears trying to prove you wrong. This almost always applies to strangers who I will most likely never see again (AC Moore employee) but the self satisfaction is all I really need. I was able to find the stamp color I wanted at AC Moore for $1.90, and I headed out on a mission to find the stamp. I was defeated by the end of the day. I had gone literally EVERYWHERE.
I ended up in TJ Maxx (how did that happen) to recoup and refuel with some more shopping (my logic does not make sense to most) when I remembered there was a Hobby Lobby in Morgantown! The one place to which I had not ventured. I called and slightly out of breath asked the man on the other line if they had a graduation stamp hat. He said he would check – a good sign, everywhere else flat out said no – while I listened to elevator music fill the silence. HE HAD ONE! Luckily I was close. I ran out of TJ Maxx leaving everything I was carrying behind (that is when you KNOW something serious is happening), and sped over to Hobby Lobby. I purchased the stamp for $2.53.
Fun fact: The woman checking me out at Hobby Lobby said they do not have bar codes on any of their items, therefore, they have to type everything in manually. I thought that was really strange and a bit behind the times, but I am sure they have a valid reason for doing so. Also, the store is closed on Sunday’s in order to let their employees spend time with family. Way to go, Hobby Lobby!